Imagining Transgender

An Ethnography of a Category

Imagining Transgender

Imagining Transgender is an ethnographic examination of the emergence and institutionalization of "transgender" as a category of collective identity. Embraced by activists in the early 1990s as a means to advocate for rights and services specific to the needs of gender variant people, the category quickly gained momentum in public health, social service, scholarly, and legislative contexts. Working as a safe-sex activist in Manhattan during the late 1990s, David Valentine conducted ethnographic research, mostly among male-to-female transgender-identified people, across sites including drag balls, support groups, meetings of a cross-dresser organization, clinics, bars, and clubs. He found that while young fem queens were labeled "transgender" by social service agencies and activists, many of them either did not know the term or were fiercely resistant to its use. They self-identified as gay. Valentine analyzes the reasons for and potential consequences of this difference - between how some of the most vulnerable and marginalized gender variant people conceive of themselves and how they are perceived by service providers and others. Valentine argues that "transgender" was so rapidly adopted because it clarifies a model of gender and sexuality that has been gaining traction since the 1970s: a paradigm in which gender and sexuality are distinct arenas of human experience. Prevalent within feminism, psychiatry, and mainstream gay and lesbian politics, this distinction and categories based on it unintentionally exclude some gender variant people - particularly poor persons of color - for whom gender and sexuality are deeply connected experiences. Valentine does not oppose the rise of "transgender" as a category; he appreciates the genuine legal, medical, and social advances it has facilitated. Instead, he advocates a broad, inclusive vision of social justice and an attentiveness to the politics of language.

Transgender China

Transgender China

This volume brings together experts with diverse disciplinary backgrounds in the China field, from cultural studies to history to musicology, to make a timely intervention—from the historical demise of enuchism to male cross-dressing shows in contemporary Taiwan—to inaugurate a subfield in Chinese transgender studies.

Transforming Citizenships

Transgender Articulations of the Law

Transforming Citizenships

Transforming Citizenships engages the performativity of citizenship as it relates to transgender individuals and advocacy groups. Instead of reading the law as a set of self-executing discourses, Isaac West takes up transgender rights claims as performative productions of complex legal subjectivities capable of queering accepted understandings of genders, sexualities, and the normative forces of the law. Drawing on an expansive archive, from the correspondence of a transwoman arrested for using a public bathroom in Los Angeles in 1954 to contemporary lobbying efforts of national transgender advocacy organizations, West advances a rethinking of law as capacious rhetorics of citizenship, justice, equality, and freedom. When approached from this perspective, citizenship can be recuperated from its status as the bad object of queer politics to better understand how legal discourses open up sites for identification across identity categories and enable political activities that escape the analytics of heteronormativity and homonationalism.

Safe Space

Gay Neighborhood History and the Politics of Violence

Safe Space

Winner, 2014 Lambda Literary Award in LGBT Studies Since the 1970s, a key goal of lesbian and gay activists has been protection against street violence, especially in gay neighborhoods. During the same time, policymakers and private developers declared the containment of urban violence to be a top priority. In this important book, Christina B. Hanhardt examines how LGBT calls for "safe space" have been shaped by broader public safety initiatives that have sought solutions in policing and privatization and have had devastating effects along race and class lines. Drawing on extensive archival and ethnographic research in New York City and San Francisco, Hanhardt traces the entwined histories of LGBT activism, urban development, and U.S. policy in relation to poverty and crime over the past fifty years. She highlights the formation of a mainstream LGBT movement, as well as the very different trajectories followed by radical LGBT and queer grassroots organizations. Placing LGBT activism in the context of shifting liberal and neoliberal policies, Safe Space is a groundbreaking exploration of the contradictory legacies of the LGBT struggle for safety in the city.

The Lives of Transgender People

The Lives of Transgender People

Responding to a critical need for greater perspectives on transgender life in the United States, Genny Beemyn and Susan (Sue) Rankin apply their extensive expertise to a groundbreaking survey one of the largest ever conducted in the U.S. on gender development and identity-making among transsexual women, transsexual men, crossdressers, and genderqueer individuals. With nearly 3,500 participants, the survey is remarkably diverse, and with more than 400 follow-up interviews, the data offers limitless opportunities for research and interpretation. Beemyn and Rankin track the formation of gender identity across individuals and groups, beginning in childhood and marking the "touchstones" that led participants to identify as transgender. They explore when and how participants noted a feeling of difference because of their gender, the issues that caused them to feel uncertain about their gender identities, the factors that encouraged them to embrace a transgender identity, and the steps they have taken to meet other transgender individuals. Beemyn and Rankin's findings expose the kinds of discrimination and harassment experienced by participants in the U.S. and the psychological toll of living in secrecy and fear. They discover that despite increasing recognition by the public of transgender individuals and a growing rights movement, these populations continue to face bias, violence, and social and economic disenfranchisement. Grounded in empirical data yet rich with human testimony, The Lives of Transgender People adds uncommon depth to the literature on this subject and introduces fresh pathways for future research.

Black Genders and Sexualities

Black Genders and Sexualities

Cutting across the humanities and social sciences, and situated in sites across the black diaspora, the work in this book collectively challenges notions that we are living in a post-racial age and instead argue for the specificity of black cultural experiences as shaped by gender and sex.

Gay Voluntary Associations in New York

Public Sharing and Private Lives

Gay Voluntary Associations in New York

Gay Voluntary Associations in New York is a sensitive and insightful ethnography of social groups that have gathered around common interests in an urban LGBT population from the time of the AIDS crisis to the present. Anthropologist Moshe Shokeid examines the social discourse of sex, love, friendship, and spiritual life in which these communities are passionately engaged. Drawn from long-term anthropological research in New York City, Gay Voluntary Associations in New York uses participant observation to explore such diverse social associations and religious organizations as seniors groups, interracials, bisexuals, sexual compulsives, gay bears, and Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish gay congregations. As an outside observer—neither gay nor American-born—Shokeid examines the social discourse within these voluntary associations from a critical vantage point. In addition to the personal information and intimate expressions of empathy freely shared in the company of strangers at social gatherings, individual stories and experiences are woven into the narrative to illustrate the existential conditions and emotional template of gay life in the city. Shokeid's nuanced portrait of the affective relationships within these groups offers deeper comprehension of the social dynamics and emotional realities of gay urban communities in the United States.

Routledge Handbook of Sexuality, Health and Rights

Routledge Handbook of Sexuality, Health and Rights

This handbook surveys the state of the discipline, including examination and discussion of emerging, controversial and cutting edge areas. It is an essential reference for all academics and researchers in the fields of sexuality studies, sexual health and human rights, as well as very useful reading for more advanced students.

New Queer Cinema

The Director’s Cut

New Queer Cinema

B. Ruby Rich designated a brand new genre, the New Queer Cinema (NQC), in her groundbreaking article in the Village Voice in 1992. This movement in film and video was intensely political and aesthetically innovative, made possible by the debut of the camcorder, and driven initially by outrage over the unchecked spread of AIDS. The genre has grown to include an entire generation of queer artists, filmmakers, and activists. As a critic, curator, journalist, and scholar, Rich has been inextricably linked to the New Queer Cinema from its inception. This volume presents her new thoughts on the topic, as well as bringing together the best of her writing on the NQC. She follows this cinematic movement from its origins in the mid-1980s all the way to the present in essays and articles directed at a range of audiences, from readers of academic journals to popular glossies and weekly newspapers. She presents her insights into such NQC pioneers as Derek Jarman and Isaac Julien and investigates such celebrated films as Go Fish, Brokeback Mountain, Itty Bitty Titty Committee, and Milk. In addition to exploring less-known films and international cinemas (including Latin American and French films and videos), she documents the more recent incarnations of the NQC on screen, on the web, and in art galleries.